Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 6B. Urban Forest Preservation.


§ 8–651.01. Findings.

(a) The urban forest of the District of Columbia, growing on both public and private land, is one of the District’s great natural resources.

(b) A healthy, vibrant urban forest provides numerous environmental benefits, including:

(1) Heat island effect mitigation and reduced energy use;

(2) Better air quality and reduced water pollution; and

(3) Quieter and more beautiful neighborhoods.

(c) The trees comprising the urban forest have significant aesthetic value, which enhances property values and the quality of life in neighborhoods throughout the District.


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 101, 50 DCR 888.)

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of Authority to the Urban Forest Preservation Act of 2002 and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Civil Infractions Act of 1985, see Mayor’s Order 2003-173, December 1, 2003 ( 50 DCR 10619).


§ 8–651.02. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Circumference” means the linear distance around the trunk of a tree, when measured at a height of 4 1/2 feet.

(2) “Director” means the Director of the Department of Transportation.

(3) “Hazardous tree” means a tree that, in the opinion of a certified arborist, is defective, diseased, dying, or dead and should be removed; poses a high risk of failure or fracture with the potential to cause injury to people or damage to property and should be removed; or is causing damage to property or structures that cannot be mitigated in any manner other than removal of the tree. In any case, the Mayor shall have the authority to determine that a tree is not hazardous.

(3A) "Heritage Tree" means a tree with a circumference of 100 inches or more.

(4) “Public parking” means that area of public space devoted to open space, greenery, parks, or parking that lies between the property line, which may or may not coincide with the building restriction line, and the edge of the actual or planned sidewalk that is nearer to the property line, as the property line and sidewalk are shown on the records of the District.

(5) “Special Tree” means a tree with a circumference between 44 inches and 100 inches.

(6) “Top” means, as defined by the latest edition of the ANSI-A300 pruning standards, the unacceptable act of tree pruning resulting in the indiscriminate reduction of the tree’s crown leading to disfigurement or death of the tree.

(7) “Tree Fund” means the Tree Fund established pursuant to § 8-651.07.


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 102, 50 DCR 888; July 1, 2016, D.C. Law 21-133, § 2(a), 63 DCR 7134.)

Applicability

Section 7012 of D.C. Law 21-160 repealed § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133. Therefore the changes made to this section by D.C. Law 21-133 have been given effect.

Applicability of D.C. Law 21-133: § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133 provided that the change made to this section by § 2(a) of D.C. Law 21-133 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133, see § 6122 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-167, Oct. 24, 2017, 64 DCR 10802).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133, see § 6122 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-104, July 20, 2017, 64 DCR 7032).

Editor's Notes

"(a) Section 2(b)(1) and (c) shall not apply to:

"(1) A tree with a circumference of 55 inches or more for which a person or nongovernmental entity has an application for a tree removal permit, which is subsequently approved, pending as of the effective date of this act; or

"(2) A tree with a circumference of 100 inches or more that is located on residential property for which a District resident has a building permit application, which is subsequently approved, for a single-family home that contemplates removal of the tree pending as of October 1, 2016."

Section 6122 of D.C. Law 22-33 amended section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133 to read as follows:

Section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133 provided that section 2(a), (b)(1), and (c) of Law 21-133 shall not apply to a person or nongovernmental entity who has an application for a Special Tree removal permit pending as of July 1, 20016.


§ 8–651.03. Urban Forest Preservation Program.

(a)(1) There is hereby established an Urban Forest Preservation Program for the District of Columbia which shall be administered by the Mayor. The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2, shall promulgate standards and regulations governing the administration of this program and the protection of trees.

(2) The regulations shall allow public utility companies regulated by the Public Service Commission to conduct utility construction, line maintenance, and emergency work within the District’s rights-of-way without a Special Tree removal permit otherwise required by this chapter.

(b) The Mayor shall transmit the regulations prescribed in subsection (a) of this section to the Council no later than 270 calendar days following June 12, 2003 for approval or disapproval, by resolution. These regulations and each revision of these regulations shall be transmitted to the Council for a 45-day review period, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and periods of Council recess, and deemed disapproved in the absence of Council action within the 45-day review period.

(c) The Mayor shall be responsible for preparing and annually updating a 5-year urban forest report and master plan.


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 103, 50 DCR 888.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-651.05.

Resolutions

Resolution 18-140, the “Urban Forest Preservation Regulations Approval Resolution of 2009”, was approved effective June 2, 2009.


§ 8–651.04. Preservation of Special Trees; permits; penalties.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person or nongovernmental entity, without a Special Tree removal permit issued by the Mayor, to top, cut down, remove, girdle, break, or destroy any Special Tree.

(b) The Mayor shall issue a Special Tree removal permit under this section where the applicant has:

(1) Shown that the Special Tree in question is a Hazardous Tree;

(2) Shown that the Special Tree in question is of a species that has been identified, by regulation, as appropriate for removal; or

(3) Paid into the Tree Fund an amount not less than $55 for each inch of the circumference of the Special Tree in question.

(4) Repealed.

(c) Repealed.

(d) A violation of subsection (a) of this section, or a failure to comply with the conditions contained in a Special Tree removal permit, shall constitute a violation subject to a fine of not less than $300 per each inch of the circumference of the Special Tree in question.

(e) The Mayor may increase the fee described in subsection (b)(3) of this section or the fine described in subsection (d) of this section by regulation.


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 104, 50 DCR 888; Dec. 17, 2014, D.C. Law 20-142, § 421, 61 DCR 8045; July 1, 2016, D.C. Law 21-133, § 2(b), 63 DCR 7134.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2014 amendment by D.C. Law 20-142 repealed (b)(4) and (c) and made related changes.

Applicability

Section 7012 of D.C. Law 21-160 repealed § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133. Therefore the changes made to this section by D.C. Law 21-133 have been given effect.

Applicability of D.C. Law 21-133: § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133 provided that the change made to this section by § 2(b) of D.C. Law 21-133 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133, see § 6122 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-167, Oct. 24, 2017, 64 DCR 10802).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133, see § 6122 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-104, July 20, 2017, 64 DCR 7032).

Editor's Notes

"(a) Section 2(b)(1) and (c) shall not apply to:

"(1) A tree with a circumference of 55 inches or more for which a person or nongovernmental entity has an application for a tree removal permit, which is subsequently approved, pending as of the effective date of this act; or

"(2) A tree with a circumference of 100 inches or more that is located on residential property for which a District resident has a building permit application, which is subsequently approved, for a single-family home that contemplates removal of the tree pending as of October 1, 2016."

Section 6122 of D.C. Law 22-33 amended section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133 to read as follows:

Section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133 provided that section 2(a), (b)(1), and (c) of Law 21-133 shall not apply to a person or nongovernmental entity who has an application for a Special Tree removal permit pending as of July 1, 20016.

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-142: Section 502(h) of D.C. Law 20-142 provided that § 421 of the act shall apply as of December 17, 2014.


§ 8–651.04a. Protection of Heritage Trees.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person or nongovernmental entity, without a Heritage Tree removal permit issued by the Mayor, to top, cut down, remove, girdle, break, or destroy any Heritage Tree.

(b)(1) The Mayor shall issue a Heritage Tree removal permit under this section where the applicant has:

(A) Shown that the Heritage Tree in question is a Hazardous Tree; or

(B) Shown that the Heritage Tree in question is of a species that has been identified, by regulation, as appropriate for removal.

(2) The Mayor may issue a Heritage Tree removal permit under this section where the applicant has averred in the Heritage Tree removal permit application that the applicant will relocate and replant, in compliance with any applicable regulations, the Heritage Tree to an identified new location within the District, without significant harm to the tree; provided, that it shall be a violation of subsection (a) of this section if a Heritage Tree that is relocated and replanted pursuant to this paragraph dies within 3 years of replanting.

(c) A violation of subsection (a) of this section, or a failure to comply with the conditions contained in a Heritage Tree removal permit, shall constitute a violation subject to a fine of not less than $300 per each inch of the circumference of the Heritage Tree in question.

(d) The Mayor may increase the fine described in subsection (c) of this section by regulation.


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 104a; as added July 1, 2016, D.C. Law 21-133, § 2(c), 63 DCR 7134.)

Applicability

Section 7012 of D.C. Law 21-160 repealed § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133. Therefore the changes made to this section by D.C. Law 21-133 have been given effect.

Applicability of D.C. Law 21-133: § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133 provided that the creation of this section by § 2(c) of D.C. Law 21-133 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133, see § 6122 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-167, Oct. 24, 2017, 64 DCR 10802).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133, see § 6122 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-104, July 20, 2017, 64 DCR 7032).

Editor's Notes

"(a) Section 2(b)(1) and (c) shall not apply to:

"(1) A tree with a circumference of 55 inches or more for which a person or nongovernmental entity has an application for a tree removal permit, which is subsequently approved, pending as of the effective date of this act; or

"(2) A tree with a circumference of 100 inches or more that is located on residential property for which a District resident has a building permit application, which is subsequently approved, for a single-family home that contemplates removal of the tree pending as of October 1, 2016."

Section 6122 of D.C. Law 22-33 amended section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133 to read as follows:

Section 4(a) of D.C. Law 21-133 provided that section 2(a), (b)(1), and (c) of Law 21-133 shall not apply to a person or nongovernmental entity who has an application for a Special Tree removal permit pending as of July 1, 20016.


§ 8–651.05. Notification requirements for removal of trees on public space.

(a) Unless the tree is a Hazardous Tree, before removing a tree on public space, the Director shall provide not less than 15 days written notice to the affected Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and shall set forth the reason for the proposed removal.

(b) Public utility companies shall provide not less than 20 days written notice to the Director or his or her designee prior to performing any work which affects trees on public space, except for permitted utility construction or emergency work conducted by a public utility company regulated by the Public Service Commission, as provided in § 8-651.03(a).


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 105, 50 DCR 888.)


§ 8–651.06. Hazardous Trees.

(a) Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit the Mayor or a property owner from immediately removing a Hazardous Tree.

(b) No property owner shall permit a tree or tree part, dead or alive, to stand on his or her property, including the public parking area associated with that property if it is a hazard to the public at-large, or endangers any public improvement or other public facility.

(c) If the Mayor identifies a tree hazard as described in subsection (b) of this section, the Mayor shall notify the property owner of the hazardous situation, and shall give the property owner not less than 10 days written notice, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, to eliminate the hazard.

(d) Where the District has notified a property owner of a hazard and no action is taken by the property owner to eliminate the hazard, the Mayor may take corrective action to abate the hazard. The Mayor shall then send the property owner a bill for the cost of the abatement action including any administrative costs incurred by the District. If the bill remains unpaid after [60 days], it shall become a tax lien against the property.


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 106, 50 DCR 888.)


§ 8–651.07. Tree Fund.

(a) There shall be established a fund designated as the Tree Fund, which shall be a sub-fund of the Local Road Construction and Maintenance Fund and separate from the General Fund of the District of Columbia. Monies deposited into the Tree Fund shall not revert to the General Fund of the District of Columbia at the end of any fiscal year or at any other time, but shall be continually available for the uses and purposes set forth in subsection (b) of this section pursuant to an act of Congress. Donations, fees and penalties collected pursuant to this chapter or any rules established to implement this chapter shall be deposited into the Tree Fund. All receipts shall be deposited as soon as practicable. The Director shall maintain the fund in coordination with the Chief Financial Officer of the District of Columbia.

(b)(1) The Fund shall be used to:

(A) Plant trees on public space and on District-owned land, including parks and school property; and

(B) Provide income-contingent subsidies to assist District residents with costs related to the removal and replacement of hazardous trees.

(2) The Fund may be used:

(A) In coordination with the District Department of the Environment, to support tree planting on private land;

(B) To conduct survival checks of replacement trees planted on public or private land; and

(C) For any associated costs incurred by the District in administering this chapter.

(b-1) The Mayor shall ensure that trees planted pursuant to this section are checked for survival at appropriate intervals to evaluate canopy replacement and inform future planting decisions.

(c) The Chief Financial Officer shall submit to the Mayor and to the Council an annual statement of all receipts and disbursements for the Fund.

(d) Private voluntary donations to the Fund shall be tax deductible for purposes of District income and franchise taxes.


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 107, 50 DCR 888; Apr. 13, 2005, D.C. Law 15-354, § 21(a), 52 DCR 2638; Sept. 18, 2007, D.C. Law 17-20, § 6102, 54 DCR 7052; July 1, 2016, D.C. Law 21-133, § 2(d), 63 DCR 7134.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-651.02.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-354, in subsec. (a), validated a previously made technical correction.

D.C. Law 17-20 rewrote subsec. (b), which had read as follows: “(b) The Fund shall be used to plant trees and for any associated costs incurred by the District in administering this chapter, and may include providing income contingent subsidies that assist District residents with the removal costs of hazardous trees in accordance with regulations provided for in § 8-651.03.”

Applicability

Section 7012 of D.C. Law 21-160 repealed § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133. Therefore the changes made to this section by D.C. Law 21-133 have been given effect.

Applicability of D.C. Law 21-133: § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133 provided that the change made to this section by § 2(d) of D.C. Law 21-133 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 6102 of Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-74, July 25, 2007, 54 DCR 7549).

Short Title

Short title: Section 6101 of D.C. Law 17-20 provided that subtitle K of title VI of the act may be cited as the “Hazardous Tree Removal Subsidies for Low-Income Homeowners Amendment Act of 2007”.


§ 8–651.08. Enforcement.

Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed as sanctions for any infraction of the provisions of this chapter, or any regulations issued under the authority of this chapter, pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2.


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 108, 50 DCR 888.)


§ 8–651.09. Urban Forestry Advisory Council.

(a) There is established an Urban Forestry Advisory Council ("UFAC").

(b) The UFAC shall be composed of 12 members, as follows:

(1) The Director of the District Department of Transportation, or the Director's designee;

(2) The Director of the District Department of the Environment, or the Director's designee;

(3) The Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, or the Director's designee;

(4) The Director of the Department of General Services, or the Director's designee;

(5) The General Manager of District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, or the General Manager's designee;

(6) A representative of the U.S. National Park Service;

(7) A representative of the U.S. General Services Administration;

(8) A representative of the District's electric utility;

(9) Three community representatives appointed by the Mayor knowledgeable in the fields of urban forestry, public policy, environmental protection, public administration, or environmental justice and equity; and

(10) One community representative appointed by the Chairperson of the Council committee with oversight of the District Department of the Environment.

(c)(1) The community representatives shall be appointed for a term of 3 years, with initial staggered appointments of one community representative appointed for one year, 2 community representatives appointed for 2 years, and one community representative appointed for 3 years. The community representative to serve the one-year term, the community representatives to serve the 2-year term, and the community representative to serve the 3-year term shall be determined by lot at the first meeting of the UFAC.

(2) Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment to the position that became vacant. Community representatives who are appointed to fill vacancies that occur before the expiration of a community representative's full term shall serve only the unexpired portion of the community representative's term.

(d) The UFAC shall be co-chaired by the Director of the District Department of Transportation and the Director of the District Department of the Environment, or their designees. The UFAC may designate other officers and create temporary, ad-hoc committees as necessary.

(e)(1) The UFAC shall hold at least 3 meetings per year.

(2) The UFAC shall conduct its meetings in compliance with subchapter IV of Chapter 5 of Title 2.

(f) The purpose of the UFAC shall be to:

(1) Ensure coordination between the District agencies responsible for achieving the District's tree canopy goals and partners engaged in programs and activities geared toward achieving those goals.

(2) Advise District agencies responsible for achieving the District's tree canopy goals regarding policies, programs, and partnerships for the purpose of maintaining, protecting, and increasing the District's tree canopy; and

(3) Provide input on the 5-year urban forest report and master plan required by § 8-651.03(c).

(g) The District Department of Transportation and the District Department of the Environment shall provide the UFAC with an annual operating budget, which shall include funds to maintain a website where the UFAC shall provide a public listing of members, meeting notices, and meeting minutes.


(June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-309, § 109; as added July 1, 2016, D.C. Law 21-133, § 2(e), 63 DCR 7134.)

Applicability

Section 7012 of D.C. Law 21-160 repealed § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133. Therefore the changes made to this section by D.C. Law 21-133 have been given effect.

Applicability of D.C. Law 21-133: § 4(b) of D.C. Law 21-133 provided that the creation of this section by § 2(e) of D.C. Law 21-133 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.